CAIRO, Egypt (CNN) -- An audio message from al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden released Thursday called on Muslims to "carry out jihad" against Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf.
The 23-minute 37-second audio message -- titled "Come to Jihad: A Speech to the People of Pakistan" -- is recorded over a montage of old video, and begins with bin Laden reciting prayers and citations from the Quran in Arabic. The audio fades down, then a narrator translates bin Laden's message into Pashto. The tape is subtitled in English, and an Arabic transcript was released.
Terrorism analyst Laura Mansfield told CNN that while the message is directed at the Pakistani people, "the simultaneous release of transcripts in English, Pashto, and Arabic indicate the terror group is looking at a wider audience, including the English-speaking world."
The only time reference in bin Laden's message is to the July siege of Islamabad's Red Mosque -- a week-long standoff between Pakistani security forces and Islamic extremists who hoped to establish a Taliban-style rule across the capital. More than 100 people, including militant leader Abdul Rashid Ghazi, died when troops stormed the mosque compound.
Mansfield noted that the bulk of bin Laden's message "builds a [legal] case under Islamic sharia [law] justifying why Muslims in Pakistan should take up arms against" Musharraf.
"He cites numerous quotes from the Quran to document Musharraf's alleged violations of Islamic law, culminating with the recent events at the Lal Masjid [Red Mosque], as well as several fatwas from clerics justifying action against Musharraf," she said. A fatwa is a religious legal ruling.
Bin Laden vows that al Qaeda "will retaliate for the blood of Maulana Abd al-Rashid Ghazi and those with him against Musharraf."
The al Qaeda chief also refers to Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, questioning how it has benefited Pakistan as a nation.
Earlier Thursday, al Qaeda released a recording by bin Laden's lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahiri, promoting bin Laden's message, The Associated Press reported.
Zawahiri boasted that the United States was being defeated in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places, according to AP.
While al Qaeda has previously voiced opposition to Musharraf, a key U.S. ally, bin Laden's message comes during a key test of the Pakistani president's grip on power. Musharraf is hoping to secure a third term as Pakistan's president, but has suffered a major loss in popularity after sacking the country's top judge, who was later reinstated.
Opposition leaders, including former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, are calling on Musharraf to step down as the country's military ruler. Musharraf said he will abandon the post if he is re-elected in the October 6 presidential elections.
Bin Laden's threat against Musharraf could serve as a boon to the Pakistani leader if he is re-elected. He could use the al Qaeda threat to declare a state of emergency -- which would widen his powers and most likely postpone any move to step down as military ruler.
Bin Laden's message is the third from al Qaeda this month.
The terrorist group released a 47-minute videotape last week on the sixth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington. The video, which featured an introduction by bin Laden in which he praised one of the 9/11 hijackers, was posted on several Islamist Web sites known for carrying statements from al Qaeda and other radical groups,
A few days earlier, bin Laden -- sporting a darker beard -- released another videotape urging Americans to "embrace Islam" as a way to end the war in Iraq.
U.S. officials have said intelligence indicates that bin Laden and other senior al Qaeda leaders are operating freely in Pakistan's tribal region near the border with Afghanistan.
This could get ugly. If a radical Islamic theocracy takes over Pakistan, I'd hate to imagine what kind of consequences that could have. I would have to believe that we'd (US and Allies) have to do something to remove the nuclear weapons from that country and destroy the capability to produce more. Otherwise, I can't see a future where that kind of regime wouldn't hand over nukes to terrorists, use them directly against India in a war, or otherwise.
What do you all think?